Visiting some of the world’s greatest architectural wonders—such as marvels of Frank Lloyd Wright and Zaha Hadid—has never been easier, thanks to virtual tours.
No need to strap on virtual-reality goggles—just click your way through these highly immersive, interactive visits for an architecture-themed trip from the comfort of your own home.
Once the personal residence of the godfather of prairie style, this 800-acre estate lies in the bucolic rolling hills of Spring Green, Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. It's currently home to the Taliesin School of Architecture and comes to life in this virtual tour of Taliesin, created by a fellow Wisconsinite. Paired with light classical music in the background, the narrator beings with the macro—why Frank Lloyd Wright’s elders settled in the Driftless Region—before diving into the micro, showcasing interior spaces (from the geometric-patterned area rug and barrel chairs in the Formal Living Room to the blue chaise cushions and Chinese art in the loggia, or second-floor patio) that Wright worked on between 1911 and his death in 1959. Bonus: visitors to Spring Green can never access the loggia.
Milwaukee Art Museum
In 2001, the Milwaukee Art Museum unveiled a Santiago Calatrava-designed addition that Time Magazine dubbed its “design of the year.” These soaring white wings are now forever linked to the city’s skyline. While normally the museum’s Haitian art and Outsider art collections are a draw, you can still experience a bird’s-eye view of Lake Michigan’s shoreline immediately upon entering, noting the way sunlight glints off Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass “Isola di San Giacomo in Palude Chandelier II.” Fortunately, Visit Milwaukee’s virtual tour of what locals call “The Calatrava” is the next best thing to actually visiting.
The Colour Palace
Need a burst of serious color? The Colour Palace in London, designed by Pricegore and Yinka Ilori Studio, and unveiled last year as the contemporary sibling to Sir John Soane’s 1811 Dulwich Picture Gallery design, is your remedy. Step into this virtual tour, which is so vivid you might need to wear sunglasses. A marriage of West African (particularly Lagos’ fabric markets) and European influences, the result is a boxy rainbow of color that shifts with the sun, and your own orientation (thankfully, through both real-time and virtual visits). If you like crossing bridges and climbing jungle gyms, then the elevated walkways are kind of like that.
Flowers are poking out of the soil and trees are in bloom right now at Versailles Palace, France’s royal residence (from 1682 to 1789), 12 miles from Paris. Step into the splendor via this virtual tour, of the palace’s Hall of Mirrors, commissioned in 1678; with so much “eye candy” in the form of ornate gold trim, it’s no wonder this is the palace’s most famed room. To replace a large terrace, the hall was created in 1684 by French Baroque architect Louis Le Vau, who was commissioned to work on other areas of the palace, too.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Architect Frank Gehry’s signature sheets of undulating metal soar above downtown L.A. even before you approach the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which just celebrated its 16th anniversary. Offering not just one, but many virtual tours, you can choose to explore the sunny lobby, backstage area, garden, or theater (with its Douglas fir-lined interior). Designed to offer supreme sound quality for performances, including those by Los Angeles Philharmonic, you’ll have to visit in person when the hall reopens to see (and hear) for yourself. But in the meantime, there’s this.
Farm Street Church
Seasoned travelers to Europe might quip that they’ve “seen it all” when it comes to churches, but in addition to the ones everybody knows (like Notre Dame in Paris), there are plenty of underrated sanctuaries. That includes Farm Street Church, a Jesuit Catholic parish in London’s Mayfair section and designed by Joseph John Scoles for its 1849 opening. Seeking a divine moment of inspiration? Make yourself a cup of tea and settle in for this virtual tour, which includes stained-glass windows, hand-carved wooden pews, and soaring ceilings.
Tucked into the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris—the basilica’s domed top is forever linked to the arrondissement and perched on Paris’ highest point—Sacré-Coeur stands as a symbol to France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Architect Paul Abadie designed the landmark, which opened in 1914, and it remains the second-most visited monument in Paris. To access the monument from your living room, visit the virtual tour here. There are two clickable maps, for the Domes and the Basilica, as well as sound options (because an organ or bells is what you might hear if you were actually there).
Sydney Opera House
Unveiled in 1973, this performing-arts venue hugging Sydney’s harbor was designed by Karl Langer, Peter Hall, and Jørn Utzon. As a consolation during this time of staying grounded, the opera house is releasing digital programming (dance performances, Sydney Symphony Orchestra concerts, interviews with notables, and more) on its website, to further enrich your virtual visit, which begins by entering it from outside, for the full experience. This year, the opera house celebrates 13 years since being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dominion Office Building
Designed by Zaha Hadid, this Moscow office building spans nine stories along Sharikopodshipnikovskaya Street and was completed in 2015, designed to provide workspace to employees in the tech and creative sectors. Explore further with this virtual tour, showcasing how dramatic a palette of only black and white can be when it comes to such large-scale design.
One of Italy’s most visited sites—the Vatican, which serves as the Pope’s personal residence—is also a must-see for art and architecture lovers. One reason is that the Sistine Chapel is here, including Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” fresco, found on the ceiling. A virtual tour allows you to zoom in on the frescos in a way you wouldn’t normally be able to on a visit. There’s also no limit to the number of times you can “visit.”